Kislak Center
for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts


Goldstein Family Gallery

Reactions: Medieval/Modern

On exhibit August 25 - December 16, 2016

In conjunction with the 9th Annual Schoenberg Symposium of the same theme, Reactions: Medieval/Modern explores the many and varied ways that people have reacted to, and acted upon, manuscripts from the Middle Ages up to today. Reactions take many forms. They include the manipulation of physical objects through, for example, the marking up of texts, addition of illustrations, the disbinding books or rebinding fragments, as well as the manipulation of digital objects, thanks to new technologies involved in digitization, ink and parchment analysis, virtual reconstruction, among many other processes. Both the exhibition and symposium will also tackle how popular culture has reacted to manuscripts over time as witnessed by their use and appearance in books, games, and films. For more information on the exhibition, related symposium, and publication.

Recent acquisition

A manuscript from Gibbon's binder

The Kislak Center recently acquired a unique manuscript related to the British historian Edward Gibbon, known for his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Purchased in December at the sale of the American collector Robert Pirie, this manuscript consists of a list of books in Gibbon's collection sent by him for binding while he was staying in Lausanne Switzerland in 1784. In addition to providing a window on Gibbon's reading habits and intellectual influences, the bill details how each book was boundeither in paper covers or in soft sheepskinand the price he paid the binder Valentin Kraër for having the work done. There are forty titles in 170 volumes itemized on the bill including Buffon's Natural History, Richard Pococke's Voyages, and several copies of the classics including Plato, Aristophanes, and Xenophon. A full catalog record for this item can be found here: